The purpose of the USGS Historic Topographic Maps project is to accurately catalog and create metadata for all USGS topographic maps. The metadata will be used to provide users with map lists, allow for searches using keywords, and display map images.
Scanning at higher resolutions creates images suitable for archiving and future opportunities for derivative products. This digital preservation effort will be enhanced by the National Archives and Records Admnistration (NARA) housing a complete copy of all files along with USGS, and copies of segments of the collection may be housed in libraries, research organizations, and private companies. Map images will ultimately be viewable on the Web. All files will be in the public domain.
Cooperation and partnerships are open to all participants. Contributions to the collection will be gladly accepted if metadata and scanned files meet the preservation specifications listed on the Web site.
Initial efforts will concentrate on the primary topographic map series -- 1:100,000 and larger scales.
The U.S. Geological Survey will support and coordinate the scanning and cataloging of historic topographic maps. The existing, working catalog is being used as the organizing list of maps. This catalog is viewable on the Web site (http://pubs.usgs.gov/historicmaps ) or available as a Microsoft AccessTM database.*
Data is being accumulated by USGS on a limited basis as local collections at USGS offices or university libraries are scanned. All available editions at all scales are used to verify the map catalog and are scanned. An updated copy of the catalog will be periodically sent to the main USGS Library in Reston, VA. Library staff will, as time is available, compare the catalog to the physical collections in Reston. The catalog will be verified for completeness and maps not available for catalog verification and scanning in the local collections will be checked and scanned. The catalog will be updated on the Web site quarterly.
As of May 2006, approximately 8,000 maps have had map catalog entries confirmed and the corresponding maps scanned.
The USGS historic topographic maps Web site is available for use to view the working map catalog. Catalog verification procedures and scanning specification have been posted. Partnerships and contributions are welcomed.
Many of these approximately 300,000 USGS historical topographic maps are generally no longer available for purchase. Maps not available are necessarily under utilized. Cartographic libraries are normally not available locally; many are dealing with necessity of making hard decisions due to competing priorities, restricted hours, limited storage space and reduced numbers of staff. Very few libraries have a complete collection of all editions, at all scales, of USGS topographic maps.
Scanning and serving maps on Web sites provides the benefits of improved public access with corresponding increase in use, at times convenient to map readers. A basic goal of this project is to create a comprehensive, accurate catalog of all topographic maps published by the USGS since 1879. As there is no single verified catalog of USGS topographic maps, the existing map catalog will be verified and updated by confirming the accuracy of citation data. Map catalog records will be correct, up to date, and available to the public.
Funds are not available for the USGS to complete cataloging and scanning in the near future. Likewise, no other single agency or library has either access or resources to catalog and scan at a resolution suitable for archiving files. The goal of expanded access to the public can be achieved by creating a cooperative effort with public libraries and partnerships.
*The use of trade name does not constitute endorsement by the USGS